BOOK RELEASE: Portuguese prime minister António Luis Santos da Costa releases the English translation of his father late Orlando da Costa’s play ‘No Flowers, No Wreaths’ alongside former CII chairman Shekhar Sardessai, deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza, Dempo chairman Shrinivas Dempo and Prof Varun Sahani

A warm welcome for Portugal’s Prime Minister António Luis Santos de Costa who is of Goan origin

By Our Special Correspondent

IT was a moment of pure nostalgia. A trio of glorious chandeliers high up (of Czechloslovakian make surely) cast a benign light over the old Assembly Hall at the Adil Shah Palace, which overflowed with a gathering of Goa’s crème de la crème and members of the business community, to give Portugal’s Prime Minister António Luis Santos da Costa, an unabashed warm welcome home on the evening of January 11, 2017. Clearly all colonial rule’s acrimonious sins of omission and commission are forgiven and there is no more room for apologies.

Portugal’s prime minister comes across as a practical, down-to-earth, warm-hearted man, truly the son of a “son of the Goan soil” (to quote Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar elsewhere during this two-day visit). His few words at the felicitation function more or less said let us not dwell in the past but get on with life in the present for a future all around. Costa was all smiles and emotion with memories of his father, the late author-playwright Orlando da Costa who made a life for himself and his family in Lisbon. His son now reminisced about his father, “I remember my father used two Konkani words, babush and babulo, whenever he addressed me and my brother!” His father had a very strong attachment to the Goa he had left behind.

His branch of the da Costa family had earlier migrated to Mozambique and although his father was Mozambique-born he grew up in Margao and later married and settled in Lisbon. Even then, so strong were his memories of Goa that much of his writings reflect the life and times of Portuguese-ruled Goa.

Attending were industrialist Shrinivas Dempo and past chairperson of Confederation of Indian Industries – Western Region Shekhar Sardessai who gave the welcome speech called for further enhancing economic and social ties with Portugal. Vice chancellor of Goa University Prof Varun Sahni invited more collaborative ventures in education. Deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza greeted the Portuguese prime minister with a namaskar  and remembered his previous meeting with former president of Portugal, Mario Soares, whose recent passing away is being mourned in Portugal and their erstwhile colonies. He also wished that with 450 years of bonding between India and Portugal, the relationship could now be well strengthened. Co-founder and curator of the Goa Art and Literature Festival Vivek Menezes also contributed to the welcome address.

Later, there was a presentation of the English translation of the book Sem Caras Nem Coros (No Flowers, No Wreaths) a play written by Orlando da Costa by Isabel de Santa Rita Vas, who has done the translation from the original Portuguese. The three-act play is based on the life and times of a landlord’s family on the night of the end of Portuguese rule in Goa in 1961 and will probably come alive on stage soon.

Copies of both No Flowers, No Wreaths and Orlando da Costa’s earlier work ‘The Sign of Wrath (O Signo Da Ira translated from the original Portuguese by D A Smith) were distributed at the entrance to interested readers. In the latter, an award-winning book, the author details a year (1940-41) in the life of rural Goa. Altogether it was packed visit to Goa for Portugal’s prime minister with many highs as he called on chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar, governor Mridula Sinha and attended civil society functions to meet Goans cutting across all differences, and not least of all renewing relations with family in Margao.

It’s India-Goa-Portugal bhai bhai time with a happy note even as Lisbon and Panjim seek to become sister cities with a common agenda of improving quality of life. Various memorandums of interest to do with tourism, heritage, science, oceanography and the study of the Portuguese language have been signed towards achieving this end.

Some state cultural programmes were cancelled due to the death of Portugal’s former president Mario Soares, but the flags of Portugal and India lined the Campal promenade and were visible at the Adil Shah Palace.

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